Simone Manuel made history at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil last night when she took home the gold in the women’s 100 meter freestyle. The Houston, Texas native became the first African-American to win the top prize in an individual swimming event. But coverage of her special victory was low, especially since she set an Olympic record. It mirrored the lack of reporting on Manuel’s first place position in semifinal 1 Aug. 10.
Last night, she tied with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, who also earned a gold medal. Both swimmers came in at 52.70 seconds. After the race ended, NBC showed the Stanford student’s stunned reaction before going to a post game interview.
“This medal is not just for me, it’s for a whole bunch of people who have came before me and have been an inspiration to me,” she told the network.
Instead of airing the medal ceremony, NBC elected to show footage of Russian gymnasts competing in the women’s individual all-around final. BBC, however, covered Manuel receiving her medal.
The American network finally showed the ceremony an hour after it first aired.
In the morning after Manuel’s history-making accomplishment, California newspaper The San Jose Mercury News was caught in a firestorm for its headline of Team USA’s Olympic swimming medals.
The headline originally acknowledged Michael Phelps’ historic night while ignoring Manuel. It only referred to her as “African-American.”
Twitter put the paper on blast for the reductive title.
@DatKaren equated the gaffe to Donald Trump.
Mercury News' headline about Simone Manuel is equivalent to Donald Trump asking "Where's my African-American?" ????
— Karen Datangel (@DatKaren) August 12, 2016
User Philip Bank$ mentioned the publication was a few miles away from the 20-year-old Olympian’s college, Stanford University.
I've always had a problem with the mercury news. These fucks are 20 miles away from Simone Manuel's school ? https://t.co/DXy8R44NiG
— Philip Bank$ (@PhilDeezNuts) August 12, 2016
Sarah Fidelibus called it “terrible.”
This headline. It is terrible. Her name is Simone Manuel. FYI, Mercury News. https://t.co/VM8vwShJ4e
— Sarah Fidelibus (@verbalcupcake) August 12, 2016
Mercury News ultimately changed the article header and issued an apology. The new headline reads, “Olympics: Stanford’s Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps make history.”
We apologize for an insensitive headline earlier on a story about Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps' medal wins. https://t.co/ykWvcddaKf
— Mercury News (@mercnews) August 12, 2016
But the damage from the original “insensitive” title was already done.
Valencia questioned why the paper wrote the headline in the first place.
@mercnews Apologize? Why did you write it in the first place? NO ONE in that newsroom thought it was wrong? Straight BS.
— Valencia (@VeeeKaaay) August 12, 2016
@DL_StyleMaven called the apology “cheap and insincere.”
— DLee_TheStyleMaven (@DL_StyleMaven) August 12, 2016
And Yoni Blumberg still thought the new title reflected the wrong part of the story.
— Yoni Blumberg (@yblumberg) August 12, 2016